5 books Richard Branson thinks you should read


richard bransonRick Wilking/Reuters

Richard Branson, the Virgin Group Founder and self-described tie-loathing billionaire, still finds time in his busy schedule to read.

As part of Facebook’s recent #ReadToLead hashtag, Branson offered up the handful of titles that kept his attention in 2016.

We can’t guarantee you’ll follow in the entrepreneur’s footsteps, but the books could certainly set you in the right direction.

“Black Box Thinking” by Matthew Syed

Failure is a key component of any successful system, but only if the people at the controls understand what went wrong.

In “Black Box Thinking,” journalist Matthew Syed explores why some people try to ignore their mistakes and others confront them deliberately. Syed pushes people to adopt a growth mindset, as the psychologist Carol Dweck calls it, rather than a fixed mindset.

“It advocates for changing attitudes towards failure, and understanding that the only way we learn is by trying things and altering our behaviour based on the results,” Branson writes on his blog.

“Ending the War on Drugs” by Richard Branson

Edited by Branson himself (“I couldnt resist sneaking in a book I contributed to,” he writes) “Ending the War on Drugs” is a compilation of essays about the global drug war and the many failed attempts to end it.

“It brings together such a smart group of experts to explain why global drug policy reform is so important,” Branson writes. The list includes philanthropist George Soros, former Mexican president Ernesto Zedillo, and former Swiss president Ruth Dreifuss, among others.

“Attitudes towards treating drugs as a health issue, not a criminal problem, are changing fast,” Branson explains. “Anyone who reads this book will understand why.”

“Travels with Charley in Search of America” by John Steinbeck

Criss-crossing the US with his French poodle in tow, Steinbeck shares his experiences meeting America’s most down-home folks in “Travels with Charley.”

Steinbeck drives through national parks, back country roads, small towns, and big cities. He encounters every slice of Americana there is, and presents the reader with a full picture of who calls the country home.

Branson looks upon the book less as a guide for leading, he says, than as a guide for living.

“It opens your eyes to the small pleasures of life, and the great wonders of humanity in the little moments that matter,” he writes.

“If I Could Tell You Just One Thing” by Richard Reed

Author Richard Reed has an insatiable desire to learn what guides other people’s lives, and he makes it known by asking anyone and everyone for advice.

In “If I Could Tell You Just One Thing,” Reed brings together the best pieces of advice he’s received over the years from notable celebrities, athletes, politicians, and entrepreneurs (Branson included).

“They highlight tangible lessons from a diverse range of interesting people, and I like to read a chapter every now and then to get inspired,” Branson explains.

“Winners” by Alastair Campbell

Journalist and political aide Alastair Campbell takes an exhaustive look at what ingredients make up a success story in “Winners: And How They Succeed.”

Some of the wealthiest and high-achieving people all rely on similar patterns of behavior to get the most out of their days, whether it’s waking up and exercising at certain times of the day or finding time to check email.

Like Reed’s book, Branson says he reads a few chapters at a time to remind himself how far he’s come and where he still has room to grow.

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